A Woman Got Her Period the Night Before a Marathon and Decided to Bleed Freely

Kiran Gandhi is making headlines for an inspiring, empowering reason. She not only crossed the finish line at the London Marathon, but she also did it after making a bold choice: to run while on her period and to bleed freely. The 26-year-old, who recently got her MBA from Harvard Business School and toured with Grammy-nominated artist MIA as a drummer, got her period the night before the marathon, a day for which she had been training for a year. Imagining running 26.2 miles with "a wad of cotton material wedged between my legs" wasn't sitting right with her — it "just seemed so absurd." Kiran explains it all in a piece she wrote entitled "Going With the Flow: Blood and Sisterhood at the London Marathon."

But then I thought . . . If there's one person society can't eff with, it's a marathon runner. You can't tell a marathoner to clean themselves up, or to prioritize the comfort of others. On the marathon course, I could choose whether or not I wanted to participate in this norm of shaming.

I decided to just take some midol, hope I wouldn't cramp, bleed freely and just run. A marathon in itself is a centuries old symbolic act. Why not use it as a means to draw light to my sisters who don't have access to tampons and, despite cramping and pain, hide it away like it doesn't exist?

So that's exactly what she did, and we couldn't applaud her more for it. Kiran wants to use her widely circulated story to send a positive message to other women and to inspire a global conversation about the stigma surrounding women's menstrual cycles, especially for women in other countries who don't have the same access to materials as we do. Ahead, see photos from the marathon and read what Kiran has to say about the experience in her own words.

"Women's bodies are supposed to constantly be ready for public consumption."
Kiran Gandhi

"Women's bodies are supposed to constantly be ready for public consumption."

"When people walk down the street, women get hit on, because we've decided in society that that's an OK norm. And the second that someone does something that is not necessarily about somebody else's comfort or about their enjoyment of my body, it makes everyone so deeply uncomfortable."

"A female period is completely natural."
Kiran Gandhi

"A female period is completely natural."

"It's not something we need to protect children from. It's not something that hurts people's feelings. It's something that women biologically go through as a human race. It's something that we should honor, enable, allow. We should have language around it that makes people comfortable. The fact that women go through something that is completely natural but don't have a set of vocabulary to speak about it that doesn't make people uncomfortable is oppressive."

"The decision to run the marathon free bleeding started in my own head."
Kiran Gandhi

"The decision to run the marathon free bleeding started in my own head."

"I realized that the fact that the real decision for me was about prioritizing somebody else's comfort and protecting somebody else's eyes over my own ability to run the marathon . . . I felt that that represented a problem. That if I did what was best for me in that moment, that would be a big deal, and I didn't like that. So I said f*ck it."

"I was never a runner."
Kiran Gandhi

"I was never a runner."

"I decided, inspired by people I saw in Boston, to train for a year and just run, and get fit, and just feel good. I show up to marathon day, and my stomach hurts so badly, and I realize I'm about to flow on the marathon course. To me, the thing that seemed most comfortable was to just run the way I had practiced, and I did that. I was going through all these crazy thoughts and analyzing whether I was A, a chick who needs to just calm down and reach for an effing tampon, or B, a liberated boss who owned her own body and was running a marathon."

The answer is B, Kiran.